REVIEW: Robert Vincent’s “In This Town You’re Owned” Exhibits Warm, Rusty Vocal Style


Liverpool’s Robert Vincent, like New Zealand’s Donna Dean, is an artist not from the U.S. or Canada but capable of interpreting what Americana is – brilliantly. Robert’s 3rd LP the 54-minute – In This Town You’re Owned, (Thirty Tigers Records – drops Feb 14) was produced by Ethan Johns, acclaimed for work with Paul McCartney.

What I find of interest in the award-winning Mr. Vincent is his songwriting. It’s steeped in influences that may or may not have played a direct role in his development. I taste an ounce of John Prine in “This Town,” — actually about Liverpool but doesn’t have to be.

It’s about a place, where Robert grew up – what’s become of it – how the outside world affects it. It’s not dramatic like a Bruce Springsteen song, it doesn’t get too political or damning – it just talks about where one comes from as a warm fiddle floats above the chimney pot grime, honking horns, laundry that once hung out on a line, & the faces in pubs & parks. It’s somewhat a cousin to English singer James Maddock’s “My Old Neighborhood.”

Channeling Dave Edmunds sprinkled with a Traveling Wilbury’s acoustic guitar is “My Neighbors Ghost.” An exceptional vintage rock track with retro rich past storytelling.

“The Kids Don’t Dig God Anymore,” is a potent slow track punctuated by drums, sawing violins over the fine wood, with a rosined-up bow. 1/3 John Prine, 1/3 Randy Newman & 1/3 Leonard Cohen. Many people may have lost their spirituality, & faith — that may be the simple reason we are where we are today. Not politics – but just the lack of humanity, compassion, patience & brotherhood.

I dare a big, famous singer to cover this song & perform it on network television.

Mr. Vincent’s warmth, somewhat rusty vocal style – not quite Tom Waits, or John Prine in tone but he has a cross between John Mellencamp-Alejandro Escovedo on the accordion melodic “The Ending,” that shows strength in structure with a rich Spanish, Tex-Mex arrangement. “Conundrum” follows with banjo, clever lyrics, gentle backup vocalists & his steady inspiring vocals. It’s not just lyrics but lessons. It’s a well-written song that leaves behind its impression, brief as it may be.

Surprisingly, there’s a little of the late Gerry Rafferty in “I Was Hurt Today But I’m Alright Now.” A riveting song. Vincent is right when he says, “music has become quite stale & lifeless.” It’s almost cookie-cutter, lacks credible creativity. It’s fruit & vegetables — limited shelf life. Some songs should be written with an ear for longevity. Robert’s are.

The music is not confrontational but with the exceptional playing of his 6-piece band (names not available from PR or CD insert). Richard at times if listened to closely has just enough of that Nick Drake beauty, rural Townes Van Zandt, & spirituality (in “If You Were You”) of a Steve Earle. Available at Discogs.


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